Interviewed by Adam Hyman
Oral History Recorded: January 10, 2010
Thom Andersen is an internationally renowned curator, filmmaker and scholar who has been creating experimental films for over 45 years. He attended Berkeley in the early 1960s and then returned to his hometown of Los Angeles to attend USC film school where he studied with Arthur Knight and eventually assisted on Knight's project THE HISTORY OF SEX IN CINEMA. While at USC Andersen met long-time friend and collaborator Morgan Fisher who assisted on Andersen's student film MELTING, a portrait of a sundae. He regularly attended local screening series including shows by the Trak Film Group and Movies 'Round Midnight and famously wrote about an unpopular screening of Andy Warhol's SLEEP. After USC, Andersen attended UCLA and completed his experimental documentaries OLIVIA'S PLACE EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE, ZOOPRAXOGRAPHER and --- -------. During the 1970s his films screened at venues including Los Angeles' Theatre Vanguard and San Francisco's Pacific Film Archive. In 1976 he moved to Buffalo, New York and after briefly teaching became a programmer at Media Study Buffalo. He then moved to Columbus, Ohio where he taught for twelve years. In 1987 he returned to Los Angeles and began teaching at CalArts. In 2003 he attracted significant attention for his essayistic, feature length documentary LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF. The film won the National Film Board Award for Best Documentary at the 2003 Vancouver International Film Festival and was voted best documentary of 2004 by the Village Voice Critic’s Poll. In 2010 he completed GET OUT OF THE CAR, a portrait of signs and abandoned spaces set to Los Angeles music.